How Work-Life Integration Can Help You Have It All

It’s been about forty years since the term work-life balance was first used. Since then, it has been used broadly to refer to everything from the need for more leisure or family time to self-care.

Critics of the term say that it creates an artificial separation between work and life, as if work were not a part of life. Others say it incorrectly implies a zero-sum equation in which life loses out while you’re working, and vice versa.

In response, the concept of work-life integration has become more popular in recent years. But what, exactly, does it mean, and is it a helpful framework to aspire to?

How work-life integration differs from work-life balance

According to UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, work-life integration is “an approach that creates more synergies between all areas that define ‘life’: work, home/family, community, personal well-being, and health.”

This approach emphasizes gentle pivots rather than hard boundaries between different areas of life. A practitioner of work-life integration might choose to have breakfast with the family and drop off the kids at school, then work from 9am to noon, then eat lunch and go to the gym, then attend a work meeting in the afternoon, then pick up the kids and make dinner, and respond to emails for a couple hours before bedtime.

For professionals who have the ability to shape their own workday, the flexibility offered by work-life integration is ideal. For those who are juggling kids, elderly parents, and other activities, it seems like the best way to have and do it all.

Why work-life integration is not a perfect solution

But there can be a slippery slope to work-life integration, especially for entrepreneurs. When your to-do list seems endless, you may be tempted to fill every nook and cranny of life with work without giving your health, community, and family the same level of prioritization.

You could end up integrating work into every area of your life without integrating much of life into your workday. Or you may find yourself constantly thinking about work even when you want to pay attention to others priorities. Why is this the case?

Our work responsibilities tend to feel far more urgent than the everyday needs of our loved ones or ourselves. As Stephen Covey writes in his classic First Things First, “Some of us get so used to the adrenaline rush of handling crises that we become dependent on it for a sense of excitement and energy.”

If we are addicted to the urgent, those pressing things will always seize our attention first. We all default to paying attention to our jobs first–unless we intentionally choose to do otherwise.

How to make it work for you

So how can you make work-life integration truly work for you? Here are three simple suggestions:

1. Create a schedule.

To ensure that you are truly reserving time in your day to focus on priorities outside of work, put these things in your calendar. Though it may feel strange to formally schedule activities like “family dinner” or “workout at the gym,” doing so will make it far more likely that these activities actually happen.

2. Coordinate with your significant other and family.

If you have a partner, make sure that your schedule complements his or hers, and that you are prioritizing the greatest needs of your family. Work-life integration should make your family life richer and smoother, not harder.

3. Remain committed to some boundaries.

Even the most practiced integrator of work and life needs time to truly unplug from job responsibilities. Your mind and body need rest from work on a regular basis in order to recharge. Set aside time each day and week to block out thoughts of work and focus exclusively on the people and activities that matter most to you.

We all want our lives to be richly filled with meaningful work and relationships. Work-life integration, just like work-life balance, is a helpful framework to help us do this, but the secret to prioritizing what we value most is in the execution.

None of us will do this perfectly, but with practice, we can get a little closer to trying to have it all.

Theresa May promises to look into man’s £54,000 NHS cancer bill

Jeremy Corbyn raises case of Albert Thompson, denied treatment because he lacked proof of residency

Theresa May has promised to look into the case of a London man asked to pay £54,000 for cancer treatment despite having lived in the UK for 44 years, after Jeremy Corbyn raised it at prime minister’s questions.

The Labour leader began a series of PMQs questions on the NHS by asking May about Albert Thompson, whose case was uncovered by the Guardian. Thompson is not receiving the radiotherapy treatment he needs for prostate cancer after he was unable to provide evidence of residency.

Continue reading…

Does 238 Harassment and Discrimination Complaints Mean Microsoft’s Environment is Toxic?

Microsoft spends around $55 million dollars per year on diversity and inclusion efforts, but that hasn’t stopped complaints of gender discrimination and sexual harassment. A lawsuit against Microsoft was filed in 2015, and on Monday new documents were made public. These show that out of the 8000 similarly situated women, 238 complaints of gender discrimination and harassment had been filed between 2010 and 2016.

These are internal complaints, not lawsuits or EEOC cases. These are complaints from one or more employees regarding something that occurred at Microsoft.

Interestingly, 118 of those were gender discrimination claims and the company only considered one to be based in fact.

In an earlier statement to Fortune, a Microsoft spokesperson said: 

“Microsoft encourages employees to raise concerns and has numerous channels for them to do so. We take each concern seriously and have a separate team of experienced professionals whose job it is to investigate these types of allegations thoroughly and in a neutral way, and to reach a fair conclusion based on the evidence.”

If Microsoft truly follows this, it seems unlikely that less than one percent of complaints were found to be based in fact. Microsoft argued in favor of keeping this information confidential because they, said, if it came to light people would be discouraged from complaining.

That’s for sure. If you know that there’s less than a 1 percent of your case being considered founded, why would you go through the agony, stress, and potential backlash by complaining? 

Retaliation for filing a protected complaint is illegal. (That is, you can’t be retaliated against for complaining about sexual harassment, but if you complain that the company cafeteria makes gross food, that’s not a protected complaint.) But, it’s very difficult to keep someone from feeling like they’ve been retaliated against if the investigation doesn’t go their way.

Does this Expose a Toxic Environment?

It’s absolutely true that not every complaint is founded. Things that unfair to an individual may not be unfair when all the facts are gathered. But, if there are a sufficient number of complaints, you know you have a problem.

Gender discrimination and sexual harassment claims are very different things, and gender discrimination can be difficult to prove. Evaluations can be somewhat subjective, even in a technical environment. And there are numerous factors other than gender that would cause a boss to assign Jane to project X and John to project Y. You don’t want to have an environment where every manager has to second guess his or her decisions.

But, what we don’t have are the number of sexual harassment cases that Microsoft did consider credible. The Guardian reports that the sexual harassment situation was toxic. They write:

At least three women reported sexual assault or rape by male co-workers, including a female intern who alleged rape by a male intern, reported the rape to the police as well as her supervisor and HR, and yet was forced to work alongside her accused rapist.

If this is true then there is definitely a problem. Even if they determined that the woman was lying through her teeth, it’s unfair to have the male intern continue to work with a woman who tried to destroy his life. That is a serious problem.

If you feel you’re being discriminated against or sexually harassed there are reasons to not report and to simply move on. Reporting can cause you stress, even if the company acts responsibly. But, it’s your right to report and your right to be protected when you do so. Companies need to take all complaints seriously and if only a tiny number are considered credible, the company needs to evaluate their procedures. It’s unlikely that 117 out of 118 complaints were just the imagination of some woman.There’s a disconnect somewhere and that needs to be fixed.

Are You Dead-Set on Being Your Startup’s CEO? Your Ego Is Getting in the Way of Success

I’ve had the same title ever since I started my company more than 10 years ago: founder and managing director. I’ve been reluctant to change it, because I like that it’s understated. A friend of mine calls himself “chief cook and bottle washer” at the company he founded, and I’ve always appreciated the humor and humbleness of that.

However, now that Acceleration Partners has grown to almost 100 people across four countries, I’ve found that my title is causing some confusion. We now need managing directors to run different regions and areas of the business, and that’s not my role. So, I’ve finally changed my title to founder and CEO.

Before making this change, I took some time to reflect on what these roles and titles mean for a founder and an entrepreneurial business as it grows and evolves.

A lot of entrepreneurs load up on titles. I know many companies with fewer than 10 people where the founder holds the title of “founder, president and CEO.” Some even throw “chairman” into the mix.

The problem with this nomenclature is that it’s typically not aligned with what the founder is actually doing. CEO stands for “chief executive officer,” a title that implies that there are other executive officers for you to oversee. In most startups, the founder is serving in most, if not all, of the executive positions herself. These CEOs aren’t “chiefs”; they are one-man bands.

What’s more, it’s nonsensical for a small business leader to be both president and CEO. Those titles exist to delineate between different levels of responsibility when both roles are present and held by different people. Therefore, doubling up is nothing more than an ego stroke.

I spent some time reviewing CEO job descriptions, and I found the responsibilities boil down to:

  • Establishing  and maintaining corporate culture;
  • Setting company strategy;
  • Leading the executive team;
  • Interfacing with the board and/or investors;
  • Being the public face of the company–in the words of Peter Drucker, “The CEO is the link between the Inside, i.e. ‘the organization,’ and the Outside–society, the economy, technology, markets, customers, the media, public opinion”; and
  • Making final decisions on key issues based on the company’s needs, values and goals.

My decision to change my title ultimately came from realizing that, for the first time, these responsibilities accurately describe my job. I don’t manage our books anymore. I don’t manage our sales or operations. I have stepped out of the product.

My focus each day is on strategy, culture, leading and developing leaders, and being our key outside connection with customers, partners and advisors. I am the CEO.

This is just where my own path has taken me. Most founders actually don’t want to be CEO; their passion lies in the product or another area of the business such as sales or marketing. In these cases, they are better off taking the role they want and hiring smart people to do the rest. This is exactly what Tucker Max, founder of Book in a Box, did when he very publicly fired himself as CEO of his own company. Today, he’s in charge of the company’s product–and apparently much happier.

If you’ve given yourself the title of CEO but aren’t doing or don’t want these responsibilities as the business grows, you’re doing both yourself and your business a disservice. Pick the title and role in the business that reflects your passion and your skill set.

Find other people to do the work that you don’t want to do. That might be a No. 2 or a head of operations. It might be a CEO.

Whatever you do, give yourself a title that accurately reflects your role. Doing so will provide clarity both for the outside world and for your team about what you do and don’t do. Setting appropriate expectations is a major first step in meeting them.

Sharp rise in number of EU nationals applying for UK citizenship

The number of German, Italian and French nationals applying for British citizenship has more than trebled in three years as the impact of the Brexit referendum is felt, government data has revealed.

Almost 30,000 EU nationals applied to become British citizens between June 2016 and June 2017, double the previous year.

By volume, Poles topped the list of those seeking British citizenship in the past three years with just under 6,200 applying in the year to June 2017, up 44% on the previous year.

The sharpest rise in applications was among Germans, whose applications jumped from 797 in the year to June 2016 to 2,338 in the year to June 2017.

The number of Italians opting for citizenship rose from 1,109 to 2,950 for the same period, while the number of Spanish almost tripled from about 500 to approximately 1,400.

The biggest jump in percentage terms was among Finnish people, although the volume of applicants was small at 220 – a jump of 255% on the previous year.

Half of the 28,502 applications made in the year after the Brexit vote were made on residency grounds according to the figures provided by the Home Office under the Freedom of Information Act.

A further 6,839 applications were made in the same period on behalf of minors, up 77% on the previous year and more than double the 2014-15 figure.

Figures provided by the Home Office showing the grounds on which individuals applied for citizenship in the year after Brexit compared with previous years

The looming divorce between the EU the UK appears to have consolidated many continental relationships, with a sharp rise in EU nationals applying for citizenship through marriage. Numbers were more than double those recorded in each of the two years before the referendum, standing at 4,342.

Italian, French and German citizenship applications more than trebled in three years.

The uncertainty over Brexit has led to record numbers of EU27 nationals living in Britain trying to secure their status. Recent Home Office figures show that 168,913 permanent residence documents were issued in 2017, the highest ever number and twice the 65,068 issued the previous year.

More recent headline figures from the Home Office show the number of citizenship applications for British citizenship from EU27 nationals has not dimmed: in the full year 2017 there were 38,528 applications, two-and-a-half times the 2016 figure (15,460).

Compared with overall numbers of EU citizens living in the UK, those opting for British citizenship remains very small. Latest ONS data shows there are 907,000 Polish-born citizens in the UK, 299,000 Germans, 220,000 Italians, 164,000 French and 157,000 Spanish.

Applications for citizenship through marriage were highest among Polish, German and Italian nationals

Just over 15,000 of the citizenship applications made in the year after the Brexit referendum were made on the basis of residence in the UK, a 61% rise on the year before the EU referendum.

To become naturalised, EU citizens need to have been resident in the UK for five years if the application is being made on residence grounds. Naturalisation costs £1,282.

These Are the 3 Worst Words You Can Put on Your LinkedIn Profile

While LinkedIn is a social media tool, it’s not like the others. LinkedIn is your personal website for your career. You are a business-of-one that must sell its services to employers over the course of your career. Having a strong LinkedIn profile is a good way to market your business-of-one. Unfortunately, I see people making all sorts of mistakes on the platform. Some include:

  • bad/no profile photo
  • too much/too little information
  • writing in the 3rd person
  • overly subjective text (i.e. guru, ninja, etc.)
  • poor networking etiquette

But, there’s one mistake job seekers are making that’s the kiss-of-death.

If you do this, you’re marketing desperation – and, nobody buys desperation.

You might think letting the world know you’re, “actively seeking opportunities” is a good idea, but it actually works against you. Studies show there are several reasons why this hurts the effectiveness of your profile. For example, it’s been proven recruiters have serious hiring bias. They prefer to hire someone who is currently working. Thus, when you put, “actively seeking opportunities” on your profile, you’re giving the impression you’re unemployed. Not to mention, it screams desperation.

Send the message the right way = toggle the switch.

You can still make the point to recruiters you are seeking new job opportunities on LinkedIn. There’s actually a privacy setting that lets you indicate secretly on your profile that you’re looking for a new job. Then, when a recruiter searches for someone with your skill sets, your profile rises in the search results. Out of the 500 million users of LinkedIn, only 12 million of them have toggled the switch on as of the beginning of 2018. That means you have a chance to really stand out, without screaming desperation.

P.S. Let your skill sets do the talking.

The best way to optimize your LinkedIn profile is to make sure you have included all the key skill sets you want to be found on. For example, if you’re in marketing, you need to look at all the skills required to do your job and make sure they’re included in the headline, summary, work history, and endorsement sections of your profile. Why? LinkedIn’s search algorithm is much like the one on Google. It looks at the relevance of your profile based on the search terms. So, the more optimized your profile is with the kinds of keywords a recruiter uses to find a candidate like you, the more likely you are to show up in their search results.

Living Vicariously Through Your Kids Could Heal Your Emotional Wounds (Unfortunately, It Will Likely Harm Your Kids)

You’ve likely met at least one parent who lives vicariously through their kids. Maybe you know a dad whose NFL dreams were crushed because of a knee injury. So now, he pushes his son to be the star quarterback.

Or maybe you know a mother who was rejected by the ivy leagues. And now, she’s hiring expensive tutors to help her kids become straight-A students who will get into a prestigious school.

From sports dads to stage moms, many of today’s parents are pushing their kids to succeed. And quite often, they’re trying to get their kids to fulfill the dreams they weren’t able to achieve.

They likely have good intentions. They might think they’re giving their kids a competitive edge or they might insist they’re giving their children opportunities they never had. But, they may be doing more harm than good.

The Upside of Living Vicariously Through Your Kids

Researchers from Utrecht University in the Netherlands examined what happens to parents who push their kids to live out the dreams they were never able to achieve.

The found that parents who experience unresolved disappointment from the past, feel pride and fulfillment when they can bask in their children’s glory. Watching their child succeed actually helps heal their emotional wounds.  

Many parents see their kids as extensions of themselves. And watching their child do something they couldn’t do reduces their regrets about the past.

The Downside of Pushing Kids To Live Your Dreams

Even though pushing your child to live out the dreams you once held for yourself is helpful to you, it’s bad for your child.

Living vicariously through kids robs them of mental strength in several ways:

  • They struggle to form their own identities. Children need to feel free to develop their own talents, and opinions. If they’re pushed into doing things their parents want them to do without opportunities to explore a variety of interests, they may struggle to figure out who they are and what type of life they want to create.
  • They may be at a higher risk for mental health problems. Kids who are pushed to be perfect are at a higher risk of mental health problems, like anxiety, depression, and eating disorders. And they’re usually good at masking their symptoms so their problems often go untreated.
  • They may engage in self-defeating behavior. When parents have expectations that are too high, kids are more likely to sabotage themselves. Too much parental pressure has been linked to binge eating, procrastination, and interpersonal conflict.
  • They are more likely to be chronically dissatisfied. Even if a child succeeds by most standards, growing up in a high-pressure home can cause him to feel like he can’t meet other people’s expectations. Consequently, he may become an adult who–despite his accomplishments–never feels satisfied.

How to Stop Living Through Your Kids

Reliving your old glory days through your kids is just one way to heal your emotional wounds. There are many other ways you can deal with your past regrets or disappointments without harming your kids.

The key to getting over your past is to build mental muscle. The stronger you grow, the better equipped you’ll be to accept the past, enjoy the present, and build a healthy future without negatively affecting your kids.

And remember, mentally strong parents raise mentally strong kids. As you grow stronger, your kids will learn by your example.